Plain Sweep

With typical third starter Scott Bittle shelved with soreness in his right bicep, LHP Brett Bukvich was asked to step in and lead No. 7 Ole Miss to a series sweep of Auburn Sunday.

The LHP responded in his 10th start of the year, allowing three runs on eight hits in five innings pitched, as Ole Miss topped Auburn 11-4.

With the win, the Rebels moved to 36-13 overall and 16-8 in the Southeastern Conference, and have mathematically clinched a spot in the 2009 SEC Tournament.

It was the first road sweep for Ole Miss since taking three from Georgia in 2006.

"Overall, a very good day," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "(Brett Bukvich) was tremendous today. We needed him with Scott sitting out. He did a great job. Everybody we sent out to the mound filled up the strike zone. All three games were very clean. It was the best three games we've put together offensively."

Bukvich received plenty of run support by the Rebel bats, as the offense exploded with 19 hits – the most for Ole Miss in an SEC matchup this season.

The Rebels had a hit in every inning but the eighth, but a baserunner in all nine innings.

"Coach kept telling me to take my time," Bukvich said. "With the way we've been swinging the bats and fielding, I was just trying to pound the zone and let my defense play behind me. It was a big weekend all around. We swung the bats, pitched well and played good defense."

Senior Logan Power, who entered the game batting .302 on the year, went 5-for-6 on the afternoon.

With his five RBI against Auburn (27-22, 8-16), Power passes Kyle Gordon's school record of 168. Power currently has 171 runs batted in.

"It feels pretty good," Power said of becoming the school's RBI record holder. "I've been struggling lately, so to have a day like today feels pretty special. I got some pitches down in the zone and was able to come through. I came in during some good situations and was able to put some good swings on the ball."

It was the second time this season a Rebel has had five hits in a game. Evan Button had five against Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

"They've played baseball here for 100 years, so to be tops in anything is a big accomplishment," Bianco added. "But career RBI is a big category. Logan has done a great job of driving people in throughout his career."

Ole Miss got the scoring started in the top of the third, as shortstop Kevin Mort singled through the left side of the infield on the first pitch he saw.

Button followed with a bunt single down the third base line, with Mort advancing to third as no Tiger covered base and a throwing error on 3B Dan Gamache proved costly. With runners on the corners, junior Jordan Henry grounded into a double play, but Mort came in to score.

Mort triggered another Rebel rally in the fifth, as a single through the six-hole notched his second hit of the day.

Button followed with another infield single, while Henry walked to load the bases against Tiger starter Dexter Price. Austin Hubbard was called to the mound, but Power greeted him with a single to left field to score two on a 0-1 count.

After Matt Snyder walked after an eight-pitch at-bat, first baseman Matt Smith bounced another single to left field to net two more. The Rebels sent nine batters to the plate for the inning before finishing with a 5-0 advantage.

The Tigers answered with three runs of their own in the bottom-half of the fifth to trim the lead 5-3, but the Rebels continued to build their lead in the sixth.

Mort came through again with yet another leadoff hit and Button walked to get it started, while a bunt attempt by Henry was popped up. However, Gamache was unsuccessful on a diving attempt, with Henry safe at first to load the bases. Power singled between third and short to plate two runners, but the Tigers were able to exit the inning with no further damage and the score 7-3.

The Rebels would put the Tigers away in the seventh, as a one-out double to the right-center gap by David Phillips sparked another big inning.

Mort walked on four pitches, with both runners advancing after a wild pitch by relief pitcher Bradley Hendrix. Facing a 2-2 count, Button chopped a single over 1B Hunter Morris for two runs and a Rebel lead of 9-3.

Mort and Button, hitting eighth and ninth respectively, combined to finish 6-for-8 at the plate with two RBIs and six runs scored for the game.

Auburn notched one run off relief pitcher Aaron Barrett in the bottom-half of the seventh to cut the deficit to five, but Ole Miss brought more runners across in the top of the ninth.

After two quick outs by Mort and Button, Henry reached second on a dropped fly ball by LF Brian Fletcher. Power doubled to left-center to plate Henry, while Snyder followed with an RBI single of his own for a score of 11-4.

Power now has 16 doubles on the season, eight shy of the single season record held by Brad Henderson (24). The Rebels committed no errors on the day, marking the third consecutive game with no miscues.

"We played well defensively all weekend," Power said. "All phases of the game, we played really well. Like I said, taking three wins on the road is pretty special. It helps our case to complete our goal of winning the conference championship."

David Goforth pitched the eighth for Ole Miss, allowing one hit and no runs. A 52-minute rain delay during the bottom of the ninth momentarily halted closer Jake Morgan's appearance.

The redshirt sophomore allowed a one-out base hit before the delay, and when play resumed got two quick outs, closing it out on a strikeout of second baseman Justin Hargett.

The Rebels return to action Friday, as they play host to in-state rival Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m.

"It's always huge when you play MSU, but there's a lot on the line," said Bianco. "You can see the finish line and we control our own destiny. If we continue to win, we'll win (the SEC). We have to take care of business."

OM Spirit Top Stories